Burdensome Indian Tariffs on WA Apples, Chickpeas, Lentils Finally Ending Tomorrow

Cantwell led calls for end retaliatory tariffs, raised the issue in person with Indian PM Modi in February

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that India will end retaliatory tariffs placed on American apples and pulse crops in response to 2018 Trump Administration tariffs. In June, President Biden reached an agreement with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lift the tariffs. Tomorrow, India will officially rescind the retaliatory tariffs.

“Business is officially open again with India and I couldn’t be more pleased. In removing these retaliatory tariffs, our apple growers can now accept orders from India and growers could be making shipments as early as this Fall,” said Sen. Cantwell. “With over a billion people, this is one of the world’s largest markets and represents a significant growth opportunity for Washington growers.”

Sen. Cantwell has been a leading voice in the effort to end these tariffs since they were imposed, which caused the apple export market from Washington state to India to plunge from $120 million in 2017 to less than $1 million this season. The Washington state apple industry supports 68,000 local jobs, including 40,000 apple pickers.

A one-pager detailing Sen. Cantwell’s actions leading to the end of India’s retaliatory tariffs on Washington state agricultural products is available HERE.

Among other actions, in January Cantwell led a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo requesting an end to the tariffs, during an important Trade Policy Forum with India. 

In February, she brought up the issue of tariffs directly with PM Modi during a visit to India as part of a senatorial delegation. “To my great interest, [Modi] said the U.S. and India should consider a Free Trade Agreement,” she later recalled. 

In March, she raised the issue again with U.S. Trade Representative Tai at a Senate Finance Committee hearing. 

The Senator spoke repeatedly with the new U.S. Ambassador to India, Ambassador Eric Garcetti, pressing the issue. 

Prior to PM Modi’s visit to the U.S. in June she led a letter to President Biden requesting that he negotiate an end to the tariffs.  

“India officially removing the 20 percent retaliatory tariff is great news for apples. We’re looking forward to getting back to business in India as our growers work to rebuild this important market and return to selling high quality, healthful apples to consumers in India. Senator Cantwell’s leadership and work to successfully resolve this issue is greatly appreciated,” said Mark Powers, President, Northwest Horticultural Council.

June’s letter led by Sen. Cantwell to President Biden said, in part: 

“It is past time to find a solution to stop the damage inflicted on American apple growers, their employees, and communities by these retaliatory tariffs. In February, India announced a 70 percent cut to tariffs on American pecan exports, demonstrating that progress in tariff reduction for U.S. agriculture is possible. We encourage you to build off this progress and help re-open this critical market for U.S. apple growers.” 

Chickpea and lentil growers in Washington state have also suffered. U.S. pulse crops exports to India plummeted since tariffs on those products first took effect. Prior to the tariffs, American growers exported $180 million worth of pulse crops to India. Now, barely $1 million in pulse crops are being exported.  Sen. Cantwell discussed Washington’s pulse crops with PM Modi during her February visit to India.

Washington state is the largest U.S. producer of chickpeas and the third-leading U.S. producer of lentils.  

Sen. Cantwell has been a strong advocate for Washington state growers. In May, Sen. Cantwell sent a letter urging the Biden Administration to help U.S. potato growers finally get approval to sell fresh potatoes in Japan. In June, Sen. Cantwell hosted Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, in the state and the pair held a forum with 30 Washington state agricultural leaders in Wenatchee to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill. 

A one-pager detailing Sen. Cantwell’s actions leading to the end of India’s retaliatory tariffs on Washington state agricultural products is available HERE.

Video of Sen. Cantwell’s remarks on the Senate Floor about these harmful tariffs is available HERE; video of Sen. Cantwell’s exchanges with U.S. Trade Representative Tai is available HERE and HERE; video of Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Stabenow’s Zoom press conference ahead of their agricultural forum in Wenatchee is available HERE; and photos of Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Stabenow’s tour of Wenatchee-based grower and exporter of apples, pears, and cherries McDougal & Sons, and Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center are available HERE.